10 Super Weird Jobs That Don’t Exist Anymore

One of the biggest threats facing humanity in the coming decades will be the rise of robots. No, they are not going to become self-aware and declare judgment day, Terminator style, but they may just as easily disrupt our world. The increase of automation by computers and robots in an increasing amount of fields (driverless vehicles )could lead to a global financial crisis as millions of humans are put out of work.

The only good news out of this is that old jobs have been replaced in the past when new technology came along that rendered them obsolete, and we somehow figured out how to put people to work.

Here are some of the strangest jobs from the past. Which one would you do if you lived back then?

1. Factory Worker Entertainer

These guys were paid to read the newspaper or union news letter to the factory workers, often paid by the workers themselves just to alleviate the boredom. So don’t complain when the guy in the cubical next to you won’t turn down his Internet radio.

2. Paid Grave Robbers

Fresh corpses for medical research were hard to come by in the 19th century, so often doctors and medical students would pay people to go out and dig up a grave. Luckily there are now standards in place to provide the medical community with some bodies.

3. Switchboard Operator

While most people don’t even use their phones for speaking to people anymore, it used to be that to people had to manually connect long distance calls.

4.  Log Driver

Before trucks hauled them away, lumber was transported by floating it down the river. These guys would ride on top of the logs, “driving” them…. In case you ever wondered what inspired the log ride at the theme park.. it was these guys going over a water fall. (I just made that last part up but it sounds true.)

5. Street Lamp Lighter

Before automatic street lamps came on at night only when you walked under them, a guy would have to walk around the city and light them.

6. Rat Catcher

Cities like London would employ people to go into the sewers to hunt, kill and catch rats to prevent disease. While it was good for the health of the citizens, these poor fellas usually didn’t live very long with all those nasty rat diseases in their face.

7. Enemy Aircraft Listener (Before Radar)

This Dr. Seuss looking contraption was actually used to help amplify the sound of approaching enemy aircraft. That, or the Air Force was just playing a practical joke on a new recruit.

8. Ice Cutter

Before electric refrigerators everyone would get ice delivered to them. Large blocks of ice were often cut from frozen rivers and lakes by the ice cutters. Ice cutter tip: Don’t cut your block of ice by cutting a circle around yourself.

9. Human Alarm Clock

Before alarm clocks some people would pay to have other come by their house and wake them up by rapping on the windows with sticks or even shooting peas at the glass. What I like about this one is that cameras existed but no one thought to make a clock with a bell on it. Also: who woke up the wake up person?  

10.  Bowling Alley Pinsetter


Nothing dangerous here, move along. Young boys were employed to set the pins at bowling alleys. No word on if extra points were kept for each pinsetter that was “accidently” bowled over.